Custom harvesters and commercial hay growers now can capture the speed and efficiency of big-bale hay production while making smaller bales for clients who want them.

Krone is introducing a baler that puts up to six small bales within a tied big bale. The multibale package is easy to handle and haul, and can easily be split into smaller bales, says Jody McRee, the company's marketing manager in Memphis, TN.

The MultiBale feature is an option on Krone's 1270 Big Pack baler. It makes 2.3 × 4' bales up to 9' long, or can be programmed in the tractor cab to make two, three, four, five or six smaller bales. Those bales are 4' long and vary in width from 1.5' to 4.4', depending on the number in each big bale.

The baler has six knotters that tie big bales and the smaller ones within them. Single big bales get six twines, small bales get two, and packages of small bales are bound with four.

Single big bales and small-bale packages are tied around the ends in the traditional way. But small bales are formed crosswise in the bale chamber, so their twines run in the opposite direction.

McRee sees the baler appealing to harvesters who make straw bales for the landscape, roadside mulch and dairy markets. Two- or three-bale hay packages also should be attractive to dairies that currently split big bales before dropping them into mixers.

The horse industry is potentially the biggest market. But the weight of the small bales might be a problem for horse owners who buy a few bales at a time and handle them by hand. When made with timothy or alfalfa, the smallest bales — six per package — weigh about 110-115 lbs.

“It's not your traditional small bale,” says McRee.

He says Krone is looking at possible ways to make lighter bales with the MultiBale feature.

The small bales' unusual twine placement is another issue. Because the twines run across the bales instead of around the ends, the bales won't hold together if handled a lot. So they'll need to be kept in packages until they've reached their final destination.

“If you're going to throw these things around a bunch, the integrity of that package is not going to be as good as a traditional small square bale,” says McRee.

The 1270 MultiBale baler was introduced last year in Germany, where Krone is headquartered. Very limited numbers will be sold in the U.S. in 2005, with full-scale marketing expected to start next year. It lists for $96,000.

For more information, contact McRee at 901-842-6011, ext. 33, or jmcree@krone-northamerica.com.